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Navy and Marine Corps Medical News 


December 1, 2000 

Navy and Marine Corps Medical News (MEDNEWS) is a weekly 
compendium of news and information contributed by commands 
throughout the Navy medical department . Information contained in 
MEDNEWS stories is not necessarily endorsed by Navy Bureau of 
Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) , nor should it be considered 
official Navy policy. 

BUMED distributes MEDNEWS to Sailors and Marines, their 
families, civilian employees and retired Navy and Marine Corps 
families. Further distribution is highly encouraged. 

Stories in MEDNEWS use these abbreviations after a Navy 
medical professional 's name to show affiliation: MC — Medical 
Corps (physician) ; DC - Dental Corps; NC - Nurse Corps; MSC - 
Medical Service Corps (clinicians , researchers and 
administrative managers) . Hospital Corpsmen (HM) and Dental 
Technician (DT) designators are placed in front of their names. 

Contents for this week's MEDNEWS: 

— Budget adds major TRICARE benefits for active duty 

— New laser vision center opens at NNMC 

— New saliva test detects Tuberculosis 

— Hospital awarded for community service 

— Atsugi clinic becomes unexpected delivery room 

— TRICARE question and answer 

— Healthwatch : It 's cold and flu season again 


Headline: Budget adds major TRICARE benefits for active duty 
By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, American Forces Press Service 

WASHINGTON - Active duty members and their families should 
look for major new benefits coming soon in DoD's TRICARE managed 
healthcare plan, a senior program official said. 

Air Force Col . Frank Cumberland, TRICARE Management 
Activity director of communications and customer service, said 
the most publicized TRICARE change in the defense budget signed 
Oct . 30 has been the opening up of benefits to Medicare-eligible 
retirees age 65 and older. The coming wave of change, however, 
won 't overlook active duty members and families, he added. 

Some of the benefits being added to TRICARE within the next 
year include: 

— Active duty family members will no longer have to make 
co-payments for care from a civilian provider after April 30, 


— Family members of active duty troops in remote locations 
become eligible for the TRICARE Prime Remote program Oct. 1, 

— DoD will have a five-year period to phase in making 
chiropractic care available to active duty troops. 

TRICARE and health affairs officials are still working out 
the details on these changes and will announce them when plans 
are complete, Cumberland said. 

TRICARE managers are also working to increase access to 
school physicals, eliminate the need for some nonavailability 
statements and some referrals for specialty care. Some of these 
issues may not come to pass before a new TRICARE contract is 
awarded, perhaps in 2003 or 2004, program officials advised. 

Dr. H. James Sears, executive director of the TRICARE 
Management Activity, called the changes outlined in this year's 
budget legislation "the biggest platter of benefit changes" 
since the mid— 1960s . TRICARE, he said, is adding benefits and 
continues to lower beneficiaries ' out-of- pocket costs and, in 
the process, taking the irritants out of the TRICARE program and 
improving accessibility . " 


Headline: New laser vision center opens at NNMC 

By Lt. Cmdr. Ed Austin, National Naval Medical Center 

BETHESDA, Md - The National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) 
opened a laser refractive surgery center under the Navy's 
Corneal Refractive Surgery Program, which makes the surgical 
procedure availe±>le to active duty Sailors and Marines. 

The new facility, located in the Ophthalmology Clinic at 
NNMC, started screening candidates for the surgical program in 
October and conducted its first laser surgeries in mid— November . 

The program is intended to serve those active duty members 
whose mission effectiveness and personal safety would be most 
enhanced by eliminating the need for wearing eyeglasses or 
contact lenses while performing their military duties. 

While active duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel may 
request evaluation to determine suitability for surgery 
regardless of job specialty or warfare community, priority will 
be placed on Sailors and Marines whose military duties require 
them to work in extreme physical environments that preclude the 
safe use of glasses or contact lenses. 

Among the first to have the procedure done at NNMC's new 
Laser Vision Center was a group of Sailors assigned to the 
Experimental Dive Unit in Panama City, Fla. According to BMl 
Troy Larck, who wears contacts when he dives, this will 
eliminate the need for wearing lenses. 

"I have had a contact lens slip out of place during a dive, 
and there is not much you can do about it while you have your 
helmet on, " Larck said. 

QM2 Randall Chase, who has never been able to wear contact 
lenses comfortably due to his astigmatism, looks forward to not 
having to worry about eyeglasses. Both Sailors looked on as 
their shipmate HMl Robert Huffman led the group getting the 

laser surgery. 

Lt. Cmdr. Greg Wheelock, Director of the Navy Explosive 
Ordnance Disposal Fleet Liaison Unit located in Indian Head, 
Md., was also among the first to have the laser surgery. Shortly 
after a post-surgical exam, he was able to read words on a sign 
that he would not have been able to read without his glasses 
before the surgery . 

His duties require him to not only perform underwater 
dives, but parachute jumping as well . He indicated that contact 
lenses can be awkward when parachute jumping, due to the airflow 
across the eyes. He will now be able to leave the lenses 
behind . 

NNMC's Laser Vision Center offers the corneal refractive 
surgical procedure known as PRK or Photorefractive Keratectomy. 
The PRK procedure uses the laser to remove a small disc— shaped 
sliver of the central cornea. PRK, an FDA approved refractive 
surgery procedure, is currently the only procedure offered under 
the Navy program. 

LASIK, or Laser In-situ Keratomileusis , will not be offered 
until further studies being conducted in the military adequately 
establish its safety in the operational environment . 

Members requesting PRK will be screened by an optometrist 
or ophthalmologist to determine if they are clinically eligible 
for the surgery. If clinically suitable, the member's unit 
commander must endorse the request and determine the member's 
priority level . Once a command-endorsed request is received, 
the NNMC Laser Vision Center staff will review requests for 
final determination of clinical appropriateness and priority. 

The most time-consuming aspects of the process are pre- 
surgical evaluations and post-surgical follow-up care. NNMC's 
new center has four specially equipped examination rooms to 
perform the pre— and post— operative visits. The center has three 
refractive-surgery trained technicians and one optometrist to 
perform initial screening exams and counseling 

There are currently nine doctors on staff at the center who 
will perform the laser procedure. 

According to Cmdr. Joe Pasternak, MC, director of the 
center, the NNMC Laser Vision Center becomes one of only three 
such centers available for corneal refractive surgery under the 
Navy program. He projected that with the new state— of— the— art 
equipment and available staff, the center will be able to offer 
the procedure to approximately 80 Sailors and Marines a month. 

In addition to the new center at NNMC, the laser surgery is 
currently available at Naval Medical Center San Diego and Naval 
Medical Center Portsmouth, Va. More detailed descriptions about 
the priority groups, as well as sample forms and letters used to 
request the surgery are available on the Navy Bureau of Medicine 
and Surgery website at : . htm 

For more information regarding the services offered at 
NNMC's Laser Vision Center, call (301) 295-1200. 


Headline: New saliva test detects Tuberculosis 
From Naval Dental Research Institute 

GREAT LAKES, 111 — The invasive and time— consuming skin 
test for TB may become something of the past thanks to the 
continued research by scientists from the Naval Dental Research 
Institute . 

Researchers are developing a one-visit, inexpensive, five- 
minute screening test for exposure to the bacteria that causes 

The saliva and other oral fluid-based tests are simple to 
perform and use procedures that can be learned in a few minutes 
and do not require any special qualifications. 

Salivary and oral fluid-based diagnostics may present 
tremendous readiness possibilities for the military. They allow 
rapid screening of diseases to be made at one appointment 
without complicated laboratory tests. 

This technology holds potential for rapid detection of 
antibodies signaling exposure to many diseases and environmental 
substances . 


Headline: Hospital awarded for community service 
From Naval School of Health Sciences 

PORTSMOUTH - Naval School of Health Sciences (NSHS) 
Portsmouth was recently recognized for its participation in 
several community service activities . 

The Commander, Mid-Atlantic Region lauded NSHS Portsmouth 
for its contributions to the Personal Excellence Partnership 
Program. The award is in recognition of NSHS's ongoing 
partnership with Mount Hermon Elementary School in Portsmouth, 

Among other things, volunteers from NSHS assist with school 
events, tutor students and participate in school beautification 
projects . 

Representatives from the Portsmouth Mayor's office recently 
visited the command and presented Commanding Officer, Capt. 
Charles Mount, NC, with mementos of appreciation for the 
command's participation in "Make a Difference Day." 

As part of in "Make a Difference Day, " NSHS Portsmouth 
staff and student personnel volunteered time and energy to 
cleaning several yards belonging to elderly residents in 

Finally, NSHS Portsmouth's Command Master Chief, HMCM(SW) 
John Bayerlein, was recognized as a finalist for the Military 
Citizen of the Year award by Hampton Roads' Chamber of Commerce. 

Master Chief Bayerlein stressed that this recognition was 
not due solely to his participation in community service events, 
but was a culmination of the time and effort that the personnel 
of NSHS Portsmouth devote to our neighbors in the community. 


Navy Medical Center is recognized for its efforts 
By Robert Jones, Navy Medical Center Portsmouth 

PORTSMOUTH, Va - Medical Center Portsmouth was the 

recipient of special recognition for Outstanding Community 
Service to the Portsmouth Clean Community Commission and for 
participation in the Adopt— A— Spot Program. 

The Portsmouth Clean Community Commission held its 3rd 
annual recognition ceremony on October 18, at the Sand Bar 

The event was hosted by the Clean Community Commission 
Executive Coordinator, Claudia Cox-Wynn. 

Mr. Robert Wall, the Facilities Management Department ' s 
Environmental & Natural Resources Manager accepted the award on 
behalf of the command. 

In August 1999, the Facilities Management Department ' s 
Environmental Branch signed on with the Clean Community's Adapt- 
A—Spot Program. The Environmental Branch selected the shoreline 
as the Adapt-A-Spot area of participation. 

Due to our extensive shoreline and prominence on the 
Elizabeth River, "it makes sense to chose this area, " said 
Robert Jones, an Environmental Protection Specialist with 
Facilities Management Department ' s Environmental Branch. As 
stewards of our natural resources, we are obligated to protect 
our environment . 

NMCP has also been participating in "Clean the Bay Day" 
events since its inception 10 years ago. During that time, 
close to 100 tons of debris has been collected from NMCP 
shoreline by over 2000 volunteers. 


Headline: Atsugi Clinic becomes unexpected delivery room 
From U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan 

YOKOSUKA - The best place to treat a broken leg is not the 
Mother-Baby Ward of a hospital, and the best place to birth a 
baby is not the ER or Acute Care Clinic. However, when there is 
little or no time you do what is necessary. 

That 's what happened in Atsugi when the Lalas family found 
themselves ready to deliver — far from USNH Yokosuka and with no 
time to get to a nearby Japanese hospital. 

"Mrs. Lalas had an appointment and she came in a little 
early saying she was having contractions and thought maybe the 
baby was on its way, " said CDR Dave Floyd, senior medical 
officer and family physician at Branch Medical Clinic Atsugi. 

Mrs. Maria Divina Lalas is the wife of AMHl Ferdinand Lalas 
of VFA-27. 

When Matthews and Floyd examined Lalas, she was ready to 
deliver. Emergency equipment was made available, the staff 
prepared itself and minutes later, Keane Aiven Lalas entered the 

"We don 't normally do deliveries here, but in an emergency, 
when there just is not time to go to the local Japanese 
hospital, or go all the way to Yokosuka, we're prepared to 
deliver the baby here, " said Floyd. 

"The healthcare facility here is one of the best, " said 
AMHl Lalas. "It's a good place and there's nothing to worry 
about . " 

According to Floyd, "That 's the message we want to get to 

the fleet. We want them to relax and do their job out there, 
knowing we 're here to take care of their family. " 

For the Lalas family, good medical care is one of the main 
reasons they've decided to stay in the Navy and extend in 
Atsugi . 

"I know my kids are in good hands here, " said AMHl Lalas. 


Headline: TRICARE question and answer 

Question: If my family moves to a different region, are we 
(active duty) automatically assigned a new Primary Care Manager, 
or do we have to re— enroll? 

Answer: Enrollment in TRICARE Prime entails the assignment 
of a Primary Care Manager, enrollment in DEERS, and 
communication with the member on what enrollment in the TRICARE 
program means. For active duty members, enrollment is automatic . 
For active duty family members, enrollment in TRICARE Prime is 
on a voluntary basis. 

Currently, if you move to a different region, you will have 
up to 30 days at the new site to enroll. Your old region will 
cover you for care until you enroll at the new region. Enrolled 
members will start a new 12-month enrollment period. 


Headline : Healthwatch : It 's cold and flu season again 
By Capt. Robert E. Hoyt, MC, Naval Hospital Pensacola 

Before you know it, cold and flu season will be here, and 
you may be ready to say "Doctor, can you help me. " But before 
you ask your doctor for help, here are some things you need to 
know about colds and flu — or upper respiratory infections 
(URI) . 

URIs are caused by viruses that effect the nose, ears, 
throat, sinuses and chest during the late fall and winter 
months. Most are mild and are resolved without any type of 
treatment . 

The common cold is caused by more than 200 types of 
viruses. Symptoms include low— grade fever (less than 101 
degrees) , nasal congestion, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, 
sneezing and mild sore throat . The fever disappears in a few 
days, and the nasal symptoms usually go away within two weeks. 

The Flu has a higher fever than the common cold (101 to 104 
degrees) but the muscle aches, headaches , and fatigue are more 
severe. Cough, runny nose and sore throat are also common. Flu 
can seem to sap your strength, and most people will spend 
several days to a week in bed. 

Colds and flu are both caused by viruses. Unlike bacteria, 
antibiotics do not affect viruses. Patients may get some relief 
from the symptoms of colds and flu using over-the-counter 
medicines, like decongestants and pain relievers, but many of 
these do not help you recover. The vast majority of people 
improve with time without any treatment . 


Comments and ideas for MEDNEWS are welcome. Story Submissions 

are highly encouraged. Contact MEDNEWS editor. At email:; telephone 202—762—3218, (dsn) 762, or 
fax 202-762-3224.